I spent a few days in Nova Scotia last month, mainly in Halifax, a city I’ve been to several times before and one that I do enjoy visiting. It still has the “alternative universe” feel of an America colonised by 18th Century Scotland, and if you arrive through Montreal (as I’ve done a couple of times) its also very non French after the province of Quebec. The Fort at the top of the hill is a mini clone of Fort George, and in fact its North Americas closest port to Europe – with Scapa Flow being the nearest location on a great circle map. Its also the place that has the infamous distinction of suffering the largest man made non-nuclear explosion when a ammunition ship exploded in 1917.
Of course the reason I’m here, and highlighting the alternative links between Orkney and Nova Scotia are renewable energy – tidal power specifically. Whilst Orkney and the Pentland Firth have some dramatic tidal flows, the Bay of Fundy is almost unique in having tidal streams of 5-6ms plus, but also huge – and I mean huge – tidal ranges. Where I live in the Cromarty Firth it can be 4m on a spring tide. In the Bay of Fundy its 16m (yes thats a five story building) on a spring tide, 12m on a neap. That means harbour infrastructure can be quite dry most of the time, and the sea a long way away when the tide is out.
In fact in this photo, the pier is 12m high, but the sea is 3km away behind us. I mean thats just incredible. The incoming tide covers 3km then rises 10-12m. Wow.